Childhood hobby turns into entertainment business
Water World, an exhilarating experience for
Creative entrepreneurs start ventures related to their hobby and
spend more time at the workplace enjoying the work. This is an advantage
in two ways because it gives the entrepreneur a sense of satisfaction
and productivity increases.
Darshana De Zoysa feeds the birds
Managing Director Water World Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Darshana De Zoysa, an
entrepreneur also turned his childhood hobby into an entertainment
enterprise successfully. The company is the first of its kind in Sri
Lanka which brings the mystic wonders of the under sea world to land.
The five-acre land in Bollegala, three kilometres away from the
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is a place full of fun, recreation and
education, specially for children. Over 5,000 schools have already
visited this unique place from its inception.
The young and creative entrepreneur of this park Darshana was
interviewed by Daily News Business.
Darshana who hails from Kalubowila, had his education at Ananda
College, Maradana up to the Advanced Level. He followed a marketing
course soon after leaving school hoping to start a business of his own
one day. One has to listen as to how he spent his childhood to know
about the beginning of this business.
"When I was six years old my father brought me a small fish tank with
some ornamental fish. I enjoyed looking after them and it became my
hobby. In the meantime, my father who worked at the Export Development
Board (EDB) used to bring me books about fish from the library. Although
I was not an avid reader I took a keen interest to read these books
because of my love for fish. I read everything about them and learnt a
lot about their behaviour and species. I continued to buy new fish and
by the time I was in the Advanced Level class I had sixty fish tanks at
home. When it was time to be employed I felt that I could make my hobby
pay, he said.
With the help of his father and a little publicity around his area he
opened an aquarium at his home. He attended to all the work without any
helpers. But there were very few customers. However,the situation
changed after six months and the business improved gradually.
With this improvement Darshana's father encouraged him to develop it
and took him to Singapore to see one ornamental fish export company and
the Singapore Bird Park. With this experience he returned to Sri Lanka
with new ideas. He then started to import ornamental fish from
Singapore. Darshana moved his aquarium to a new three-storied building
in Nugegoda and the business progressed well.
I had a plan to start a public aquarium and applied for a bank loan.
When I went for the interview the bank officials asked me who will spend
money to see fish and turned my application down, It was very
discouraging, but I did not give up. There were many others who
encouraged me. One of my father's friends helped me financially in a big
way. Some friends gifted ornamental fish, some came and worked with me
at the site for friendships' sake. With that I was able to lease this
five-acre land in Kelaniya and built the aquarium which was opened on
May 1,2004, he said.
Today, there are more than 14,000 fish of over 500 species at the
Water World including electric eels, lung fish, blind cave tetras, and
the largest fresh water fish, the Arapaima. There are more than 150
display tanks along the 800 foot cave with more than 100 information
boards about various types of fish and their lifestyles. A small boat
yard and a playground with canteen facilities around where families can
come and relax.
In 2008, Darshana opened a bird park adjoining the aquarium with 500
birds of 65 species. "I learnt about this concept from a bird park in
Singapore. But there are a lot of restrictions in Sri Lanka to have
local birds in a park like this. If the Government can relax the
restrictions I can improve this much more. This is an ideal place for
children to spend their leisure wisely. Children can talk to the birds,
feed them and listen to them singing, admiring nature's beauty", he
"I am very happy when children and adults enjoy here. It is not only
the money, I am also proud that I was able to introduce a new experience
for the people in our country .
The park is open daily from 9.30am - 5.30 p.m including public
holidays. It is free for differently able people. We allow access for
those on wheel-chairs too in the park
"There is plenty of room for more improvements and my future plan is
to introduce new features and expand concentrating on the improved
Asked about the secret behind his success, he said, "My wife and
father are behind my success. They are very supportive and I spend a lot
of time here at the park doing a lot of work."